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What The HELL Happened To The Samsung Galaxy Note 5!?

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We’ll level with you guys, we’re not sure what’s going on either. This is weird, even by mobile industry standards – first the Galaxy Note 5 was heavily rumoured ahead of its launch and, due to previous years being released globally, it was assumed it would arrive that way for the fifth-gen too. But that didn’t happen, we were all shocked by a restricted distribution to North America and Asia. Then, something not so unusual happened, there were rumours that we would indeed see the Note 5 released in the UK and Europe – a delayed launch from Samsung.

Not long after that, those rumours appeared to solidify, and the rumour mill had “all but confirmed” the Galaxy Note 5 would arrive in the UK and Europe in late January 2016 – the way this came across seemed like a done deal, and frankly, we’re used to seeing such things pan out as expected. And that’s where the rug got pulled from under us all, because here we are, February 2 2016, an no word at all from Samsung. Zip. Zero.

The reason as to why Samsung ditched the UK this time around for the Galaxy Note 5 is likely to do with Samsung testing out a new Galaxy S model — the Galaxy S6 EDGE+. This handset, a more expensive, slightly larger version of the Galaxy S6 EDGE, was designed to be more premium and had slightly better specs and a larger display. Reaction to the handset, however, wasn’t great — a lot of punters didn’t seem to understand why they should pay so much more for a slightly improved handset. 

“Samsung has been working on Marshmallow for the Note 5 and S6 edge+ along with the original S6 duo,” reports Sam Mobile, “and a tipster has sent us a few images of Android 6.0.1 running on the first metal and glass Note. We weren’t told if this is a test firmware or a final version that will soon roll out over the air, but we can see the changes in the interface implemented here are similar to those on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. Well, mainly the white and blue status bar theme, public opinion on which has been rather divided.”

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However, in a weird twist of events, it now appears as if Samsung is going to do the exact opposite in 2016 — release the Galaxy Note 6 in the UK, but not the Galaxy S7 EDGE+. 

And the reason? Simple: sales of the Galaxy S6 EDGE+ were rubbish and likely no way near what the Galaxy Note 5’s would have been had it launched in the UK last year. 

The Galaxy Note 6 and future Note devices will likely be vastly different to what came before. Samsung will be looking to turn the heat up on the competition in 2016/17 and in order to do this it is going to have to further develop what its customers come to expect from its mobile products. Fortunately, Samsung appears to have quite a bit up its sleeve for 2016/17, as you can read about HERE

You can check out the original rumour in italics below: 

Multiple reports trickled out in early December confirming that the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 will be arriving in the UK and Europe from late January 2016.

The word came via Gadgette’s “trusted sources”, who had previously been accurate by confirming, pre-launch, that the Note 5 was not getting an immediate release in the UK. According to this information the handset will arrive in “late January 2016”, a claim which has been confirmed by AndroidCentral’s own sources too.

And this is BRILLIANT news for Android fans. The Galaxy Note range of smartphones — sorry, phablets — are easily some of the best Android phones we’ve tested over the years. The Galaxy Note 3 was exceptional. Ditto the Galaxy Note 4. So, when we heard Samsung had shunned the UK with the Galaxy Note 5 we, like a lot of people, were pretty damn peeved off — the Note has always been a popular handset here in the Emerald Isles.

Was this a covert marketing job by Samsung? Perhaps. Samsung isn’t a stranger to odd and often bizarre marketing campaigns. And there has been A LOT of talk about the Galaxy Note 5 in the UK since it was confirmed it wouldn’t be coming here at launch. You always want what you cannot have and this, at least from our perspective, was definitely the case with the Galaxy Note 5.

The handset, as you can read ALL about below, is a thoroughly excellent phablet that is feature-packed and full of awesome hardware and specs. We love the Note range. Always have done. For more information read on!

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Design

Well during the run-up to the Galaxy Note 5 launch we saw pretty much everything from sneaky, grainy prototype photos right through to CAD designs, official product renders, and some even higher quality snaps too. We saw the Galaxy Note 5 from pretty much every angle, and of course, it was mostly accurate.

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That means we are essentially looking at a body shape very similar to the Galaxy Note 4, but incorporating many key design features from the Galaxy S6, and, to an extent the Galaxy S6 EDGE – but more on that particular point in a minute.

So carrying on Samsung’s design renaissance from the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 EDGE we’re looking at a machined metal chassis clad with glass panels on front and back, and pretty much all the Galaxy S6’s design cues are there including the subtle punched speaker grille along the bottom edge and the neat little aerial lines at both ends. It’s a very tidy package just like the Galaxy S6 – but bigger!

As with past Note handsets, the S-Pen stylus is housed in the bottom edge too. Samsung claims the new S-Pen is even more accurate and smooth to use, even going as far to say it works like a real ball point pen. There’s also a new click mechanism to release the stylus from its housing.

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There is one key design feature that is a bit different, but again this was already revealed in leaks a while back. The glass rear panel of the Galaxy Note 5 mirrors the design of the Galaxy S6 EDGE’s curved display glass with a gently curved edge design, which looks just as classy here. Samsung also claims this makes it more ergonomic and easier to use with one hand.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 S-Pen Problems Discovered

It’s been discovered that there’s a design problem with the Galaxy Note 5’s S-Pen and the housing for the stylus inside the bodywork. According to a report from Android Police, if the S-Pen is put back into the phone the wrong way round it can seriously and irreversibly damage the phone.

This is particularly bothersome because, unlike previous Galaxy Note stylus designs which had an asymmetric shape, the Galaxy Note 5’s S-Pen is uniformly shaped all round. That means putting it in the “wrong” way round is incredibly easy to do, you can’t easily tell which way it should go round, and it’ll actually allow the pen to be inserted without much resistance if it is placed the wrong way round, only to suddenly jam at the last moment. It’s possible to then remove the stylus with tools, but if you do it seems to permanently destroy the stylus auto-detect mechanism.

Samsung has now officially responded to the issue, and said response is a little disappointing. The firm simply says that users should consult the device manual before using the phone. Apparently the Note 5 manual is the first Note series to actually specify that you must place the S-Pen in the port correctly, meaning Samsung knew about the problem before launch.

In a statement to the BBC, Samsung said:

We highly recommend our Galaxy Note 5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario caused by reinserting the S-Pen in the other way around.”

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As of November 18, reports have emerged that Samsung has now begun shipping Samsung Galaxy Note 5 handsets with a new label on the box giving a warning about the S-Pen slot and detailing how to correctly insert the stylus in order to prevent damage. As previously reported, this information was included inside the user manual, but Samsung seems to have wised-up to the fact that not everyone looks at the manual straight away – and there’s plenty of opportunity when enthusiastically getting to grips with a new device for this damage to occur.

The warning, which greets users as soon as they open the box, reads: 

“Be sure to insert your S Pen with the nib pointed inward. Inserting the S Pen the wrong way can cause it to become stuck and can damage the pen and your phone.”

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Display

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Again, not much of a surprise here. We’re looking at a massive (and flat – no EDGE curves here) Super AMOLED touchscreen dominating the front fascia and leaving barely any bodywork round the bezel. It’s a 5.7in screen just like its predecessors though, so it has simply been embedded in a tighter bodyshell.

The resolution, as expected, is a QHD (2560×1440 pixels) setup at 515ppi. As with Samung’s existing display offerings you can expect superb visual quality here with excellent brightness, contrast, colour accuracy and robust viewing angles.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Processor & Hardware

The onboard processor is Samsung’s Exynos 7420, an octa-core 64-bit chip manufactured on the 14nm FinFET semiconductor for fast, cool-running performance. This is the same chip that has delivered some of the best performance on the market inside the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6 edge+, although in this case it packs 4GB of RAM for better multitasking capabilities – that’s the most RAM Samsung has ever put inside a handset. It’s also the amount of RAM everyone harps on about when it comes to making the most of 64-bit processor architecture!

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is equipped with a massive 3,000mAh battery cell (which is non-removable) and once again the phone features Samsung’s Ultra Power Saving mode.

The handset is available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options, and for the North American model, ie: non-dual-SIM there is no microSD support.

However, as with the Galaxy S6 edge+ you do get (fast) wireless charging, power saving mode, and both NFC and MST to allow it to function with Samung Pay – Samung’s new point-of-sale payment service that works with any existing card tap-top-pay till. Want to know more? Check out our dedicated article on Samung Pay here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Camera

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The camera is the same setup we’ve seen inside both the Galaxy 6 and S6 edge, and the new S6 edge+, which means a 16MP sensor with a wide aperture, and, as we’ve seen with the existing flagships, it’s capable of some truly stunning image capture with very little effort. It supports 4K video capture, features an LED flash and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and there’s a quick capture function you can activate by double tapping the home key.

Samung Galaxy Note 5: Software

The software package is Android 5.1 Lollipop with Samung’s latest TouchWiz UI on top, which as with the Galaxy S6 is quite neat, minimalist and streamlined. As expected, Samsung has added many familiar Note features including the Air Command radial menu for the S-Pen, and the multi-window multitasking and screen-sharing features; allowing multiple apps to run on the screen at once.

Samsung has also streamlined key S-Pen features, a given example was signing PDF documents – you don’t need separate applications to do it you can simply open a document, write on it, and save it, all without jumping through many hoops at all.

As of November 19, several reports have emerged which seem to show information taken from Samsung’s internal databases, specifically, these databases show Samsung’s roadmap for Android Marshmallow updates. For those fortunate enough to be in a country where you can buy the Galaxy Note 5, you’re in luck, because these reports have consistently pointed to an imminent launch of Android Marshmallow for the Galaxy Note 5 – it appears this phone is a priority for Samsung as far as the update plan is concerned. The latest snippet comes via PhoneArena’s inside source, which has the latest updated schedule – according to this information the Galaxy Note 5 Marshmallow update is currently “uploading” (presumably to Samsung’s distribution platform) and will rollout in December 2015!

Samsung has actually now posted a blog article confirming several new features we can expect inside the next build of TouchWiz launched with the Android M update to Samung devices. The post features an infographic detailing several new capabilities baked into the next UI.

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